Innovation news in brief: Google; gaming; student entrepreneurs

AntiMatter Games is based at Tremough Innovation Centre in Penryn

Digital Garage success for Google

Google's first ever Digital Garage venture has completed a successful seven month stint at the Leeds Dock enterprise village.

Allied London, which manages Leeds Dock, and its subsidiary company Hello Work partnered with Google over the past seven months to deliver the Digital Garage concept, a programme of face-to-face training and mentoring for small businesses and individuals in Leeds, designed to improve their digital knowledge.

In all 3,000 businesses have visited the site to attend seminars and one-to-one sessions and take advantage of the workspace. Google had planned to run the Digital Garage for six months,but extended this to seven months due to  demand.

Michael Ingall, chief executive of Allied London, said: "When Google were looking for a site for their first ever Digital Garage they came to us and shared our vision, so we partnered them with our Hello Work platform to create the space and we are delighted with the successes over the last eight months.

"We have a clear vision for Leeds Dock as an enterprise village for leading media, technology and creative companies as well as entrepreneurs and independents. We are creating the new work/life destination for Leeds with a year-round programme of events, exciting restaurants and bars, personal fitness facilities and a thriving community boardwalk. The success of Google's Digital Garage has been a brilliant catalyst for this activity."

Leeds Dock will open its doors to Sky@Leeds Dock in December, which will see Sky's new technology hub create up to 400 new digital technology jobs.

Games developer becomes industry leader

A games development company has now become an industry leader after launching its business from a Cornwall innovation centre.

Antimatter Games only had three members of staff when it first established itself at Tremough Innovation Centre (TIC) in Penryn at the end of 2012.

Many employees have since relocated to the county, and other staff brought in as the company has grown, boosting its workforce to the current 25.

Since moving to TIC, the company has worked on a number of well-known projects, such as Evolve, published by 2K Games, and a highly successful series for National Geographic.

Antimatter staff are currently developing a new game, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, with a trailer for the first person shooting game winning an award at an industry expo in America recently.

The Cornish studio has grown so quickly that it is now preparing to move on from the Innovation Centre, which is operated by Plymouth University and transfer to larger premises in Falmouth town centre.

Rich Barham, director of Antimatter Games said: “Tremough Innovation Centre was the perfect match for Antimatter and offered a fantastic collaborative working environment.

“The centre’s willingness to support us every time we needed to expand the business has been great. The team were with us for every step of our growth and we have now become the largest games studio in Cornwall. Since moving to Tremough, none of our staff have chosen to leave us, which not only speaks volumes for Antimatter as a great place to work but is also testament to the fantastic environment at Tremough."

Global innovation award for gold catalyst

Cardiff University researchers have picked up a coveted global award for developing a pioneering new catalyst to manufacture vinyl chloride – a major monomer used in the production of plastic.

University researchers from the Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI), along with co-researchers from chemicals company Johnson Matthey, scooped the Innovative Product of the Year Award at the recent IChemE’s Global Awards ceremony.

Research undertaken by the team at CCI has shown that gold nanoparticles are the best catalysts in the reaction used to produce vinyl chloride, and provide a much cleaner, more sustainable alternative to the commercial catalyst, mercuric chloride, that is currently used.

More than 20 million tonnes of vinyl chloride monomer are manufactured each year, primarily using the mercuric chloride catalyst. Not only is the supply of mercury limited, it is also globally recognised that mercury is seriously harmful to human health and the environment.

Student entrepreneurship diminishes by graduation

More than a quarter of students - equivalent to 375,7002 - have started or plan to start a business venture whilst they are still at university, according to new research from Santander.

Amongst those that have already started a business, the average turnover is £6,876 per annum, equivalent to a collective £478 million. However, only 10% university students plan to start their own business when they graduate or continue with an existing venture, raising questions about the advice and information available to young entrepreneurs.

The research was commissioned to support the launch of Santander’s Big Ideas competition, which challenges students to put forward their ideas to transform the banking industry for a chance to win part of £20,000 plus the opportunity to develop the idea.

Simon Bray, Managing Director of Santander Universities UK commented: “Thousands of students across the UK run very successful and profitable businesses whilst at university, but the appetite to continue being entrepreneurial seems to diminish as they come to the end of their studies.

“We want students to continue with their business plans, both during their studies and after they graduate, which is why it’s so important that they are supported every step of the way. At Santander we want to reward and encourage students to dare to invent, innovate, create and be entrepreneurial.”

More information about the Big Idea competition is available here 

Medtech innovations boost independent living

Laser-emitting shoes which help people overcome ‘freezing-of-gait’ and a Meccano-style walking aid kit are just two of the latest innovations being developed by companies in London and the South East which could help people stay independent for longer as they get older or develop debilitating illnesses.

The range of innovative medical technologies were all showcased at the Design Council’s inaugural MedTechSouthEast pitching event, held recently at the Royal College of General Practitioners.

The 10 winners will now receive mentoring from some of Design Council’s experts to develop and commercialise their products.

John Mathers, chief executive of Design Council said: “Technology can be a vital tool in retaining our quality of life as we get older. MedTechSouthEast has highlighted some of the fantastic pool of innovation talent we have in Britain, this programme will now harness it and develop these fantastic ideas. We need to increase the convergence of tech and design to create usable, accessible, human-centred devices and systems that will help us all retain our quality of life as we age.”

The 10 winning MedTechSouthEast companies are:

  • Dermaspray – An automated, spray-on medication reducing inflammation and pain in people with arthritis, while avoiding the side-effects of oral tablets
  • Dolman Plug & Socket – A plug and socket system that can be pushed in or removed with little effort designed for people with poor grip
  • Esher’s Maternity & Menstrual Solutions – A disposable leak-proof absorbent briefs to for women during periods or after childbirth
  • Evolvable Walking Aid Kit – A ‘build- it- yourself’ walking aid kit to overcome to lack of adaptability in walking frames, crutches or sticks as people’s needs change or children grow
  • GyroGear – Gyroscope and sensor technology in a glove to combat hand tremor in people with conditions such as Parkinson’s
  • HeliconLiveLong – An online tool to help interdisciplinary care teams manage the health of elderly people with multiple conditions more effectively and easily
  • Integro Smart Box – A system to manage the need to take multiple drugs that sends an alert to family or carers via text or email when medication is late or missed
  • Path Finder – Shoes that incorporate laser and sensor technology to emit lines ahead as users walk to tackle ‘freezing of gait’ in people with Parkinson’s
  • Speak Set – Video calling via the TV to help elderly people easily keep in touch with caregivers and family
  • Strawz – Fixed-dose medicine dispenser to ensure accurate doses

The winners will now take part in an intensive accelerator programme led by design experts and medtech industry leaders.